My name is Jackson

Jackson P. Niehoff.

We are only a day into our adoption story contest, and readers are sending in their tales. The first recipient of an Our Furever Family mug is Lisa M. Rudgers, who works as vice president of global communications and strategic initiatives at the University of Michigan. Here she tells the story of how she came to welcome Jackson into her family.

We had one dog already, Maxine — a beautiful, sweet, specially bred German Shorthair Pointer who had been left behind to live in the large outside kennel operation after her breeders sold all the other litter mates. She was fourteen months old when we adopted her more than 9 years ago.

Certainly we did not need another dog just one year later.

I first saw his picture on a poster in Chelsea’s farm and feed store. He was at living at a house in town, fostered while two kind souls tried to find a permanent home for him. I turned away from the poster at first, and didn’t even rip off a tab with the telephone number. But then I saw him again, the very next week. Len and I made the mistake of stopping by a humane society pet adoption in the front yard of Chelsea’s Lane Animal Hospital.  He was such a character, and his story was heartbreaking. He had been found by the side of the road, hit by a car and left for dead. He was just a few months old. His back right leg was badly mangled. Good Samaritans took him to a nearby vet who performed surgery on his leg at no cost (19 pins). He was not seriously injured in any other way. He was brought to the humane society in a large cast, and one of the volunteers felt so sorry for him she brought him to her house when the cast came off, house-trained him, and looked for a permanent home. He found it with us. His name is Jackson P. Niehoff.

He was — and is — a handful. He was diagnosed with heartworm just a short time after his adoption. It was an ordeal. He is not good with strangers who enter his territory. He guards us fiercely. Sometimes too fiercely. If he gets the chance, he escapes from our fenced-in yard and runs through our rural back country for several hours before returning, wet and muddy. I worry myself sick until he returns.

But there has never been a more loyal dog or one who loves his family more…all of us humans and Maxine, too. His greatest joy in life is play — catching a ball, fetching a stick, jumping into a lake. Jack has taught us a whole lot about the simple pleasures of playing until you’re just plain worn out. Mostly, Jack’s life and happiness reminds us that sometimes it takes a village of kind Samaritans to help animals thrive.

Click here for more information about the Love Story contest.

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